Photo: Ruben Gonzalez (PRT) has not qualified for next year’s ASP World Tour but he surely did fly the flag in the last ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) of the year before breaking a couple of boards while free surfing in solid fifteen foot Pipeline.
That’s it, the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) have come to an end celebrating its sixteenth year of action and success around the world and massive surf blessed the final event of the 2008 season, the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing won by former ASP World Champion CJ Hobgood (USA). With WQS contenders having a chance to qualify until the final day of the year, it added serious pressure to the already tensed atmosphere brought by the testing conditions.
All fifteen names are now officially published and the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Europe congratulates Michel Bourez (No. 2, PYF) and Tim Boal (No. 11, FRA) for qualifying, as well as Tiago Pires (No. 13, PRT) for requalifying through the Grind. Bourez and Boal will be rookies on next year’s ASP World Tour, keeping up Europe’s impressive roll since 2006 when Miky Picon (FRA) first qualified for the Dream Tour. In three years, the number of Europeans on tour has gone from 1 to a minimum of 5 next year, Jeremy Flores (FRA) leading the charge by far with impressive results at 20-years-old only.
Guaranteed to compete on next year’s Dream Tour are Jeremy Flores (FRA), Miky Picon (FRA), Tiago Pires (PRT), Michel Bourez (PYF) and Tim Boal (FRA). A total of five men that could rapidly go to seven if Aritz Aranburu (EUK) gets the injury wildcard he has applied for and Marlon Lipke (DEU) ends up getting in if Pires secures a big result at the upcoming Billabong Pipeline Masters starting December 8.
Lipke is sitting on the bubble at the moment with his fate being in Pires’s hands after an impressive run on the WQS in 2008. Pires, who has impressed all year at all barreling lefthanders on tour including Indonesia where he finished 3rd, is expected to do well in what should be a solid Pipe. His peers know how deep the Portuguese can get on his backhand tuberides and everyone will have fingers crossed for Lipke who showed he deserved his Dream Tour spot.
Apart from competition, many of Europe’s usual WQS performers have been enjoying the 15 to 20 ft swells hitting the North Shore since the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing ended, including female representative Lee-Ann Curren (FRA) always happy to charge whenever she can. Pires’s fellow countryman Ruben Gonzalez (pictured, PRT) broke a board in pumping Pipeline leaving the water with a smile on his face while Michel Bourez got caught under three waves of another massive day feeling more alive than ever after coming home.
As the swell seems to be dropping, lots of intense action still to come on Oahu’s North Shore. All four ASP World Tour Europeans will enter the waiting period of the final event next Monday, December 8, with the will to wrap up 2008 as good as possible.
Flores, currently No. 10 in the world, has all skills to get into that Top 10 in one of the most spectacular waves on tour while the crew’s only goofyfooter Miky Picon (FRA) who is sitting No. 18 will be one to watch in the expected hollow barrels. Pires, as said earlier, needs to improve his current rating by two spots to open the door to Lipke, and Aranburu has yet to get his first big result of the year.
With all European surfing fans watching the Billabong Pipeline Masters via the webcast at http://www.aspworldtour.com, Europe’s fantastic four will answer the call and finish up the work before a well deserved break.
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